Author - Almost. Almost there. Close enough to touch.

Thursday March 25th

The threads of the case were spinning together, twining stronger and more complete in Sherlock's deft hands.

Soo Lin Yao / disappearance / killer-smugglers looking for something / Chinese goods / Van Coon / Lukis / vandals / symbols /

The next thread to pluck - Soo Lin read sanzhou, but was nowhere to be found. Ergo she knew the code. That her life was in danger was evident, but Sherlock needed to know her connection to the killers.

A weak lever, using the threat hanging over a young woman's life to keep John with him as they visited the museum, but Sherlock employed it. In another era, John would have been a chivalrous knight rescuing damsels; in spite of his exhaustion he came. The shining Zisha pots in their glass case had told Sherlock all he needed to know about Soo Lin's bolt hole.

"Shouldn't we call the police? If her life is in danger?" Andy, Soo Lin's coworker in the Chinese Antiquities department looked worried, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed. John opened his mouth but Sherlock cut him off.

"Would do more harm than good. She's terrified and has found what she feels is a place of safety. If you bring in a crowd of police, she may run again. It would expose her, not to mention possibly attract the attention of those seeking her. I only want to talk."

The case was becoming so interesting. There was time enough later to bring the police in.

After some hesitation Andy agreed. John's expression was sceptical, but he said nothing as Sherlock arranged for them to enter the museum after hours.

When they got back to Baker street, John made himself a sandwich and took himself off for a long nap, saying he needed the rest if they were to be running about London half the day again. Sherlock waved a dismissive hand before leaving again on a short errand.

By the time John wandered downstairs again several hours later, the display was ready. A Chinese acupuncture chart that displayed the meridians of chi throughout the body was tacked to the cupboard door next to the fridge. Pins had been thrust in at various points in a pattern that Sherlock had often re-traced at night alone in his room.

"Are you making tea, John?" Sherlock asked. He was bent over his microscope in the kitchen.

"You're sitting right there. Lazy."

"Busy. Observe the difference."

Behind he heard the rush of water as John filled the kettle. A moment of quiet passed. Sherlock picked up another slide and placed it under the microscope.

"I didn't know you had an interest in Eastern medicine, Sherlock." John's voice was as mild as his expression when Sherlock looked up.

"I would think the study of how body systems are viewed in other cultures would be of interest to any man of science," Sherlock said, stressing the last word. Meaning you, John. Look closer.

"Huh. I thought it would be..." John wrinkled his nose. "Extraneous information for you. Something to delete."

"Clearly it isn't." Sherlock watched as John turned back to the chart and tapped it, forefinger running up from pin to pin.

lateral malloleus, peronaus flexor, biceps femoris, vastus lateralis, iliac crest, to the obliques, back to the latissimus dorsi...

Sherlock made a concerted effort to control his breathing. Hardwin had said those words their first call, describing a pleasurable path on Sherlock's body that led - unexpectedly - to fulfillment. Sherlock remembered each Latin phrase clearly, and now he watched as John traced the path with a finger. Will he remember? Control yourself. Sherlock lowered his gaze again to the eyepiece of his microscope. He heard John tsk! and looked up once again.

John pulled out the pin that had pierced the lower lip on the anatomical drawing. "No acupuncture point there," he said, and thrust it home just under the nose. "An old girlfriend was into it. Me, I never saw the point - had enough needles jammed into me in medical school to last a lifetime. Is this to do with a case?" He turned back to Sherlock and paused at whatever he saw on Sherlock's face.

Sherlock waited. Wrong question, John! Use my methods! John's brows began to go up. He crossed his arms.

"Yes," Sherlock said finally. "Research. A cold case." It was true enough.

Which was the wrong answer, apparently, as John's expression shuttered. He turned back to the cupboards and pulled out two mugs. "You want dinner before we go out?"

"Not while I'm on a case."

"Fine. I'll get a takeaway, then." John handed him a mug with the teabag still in and left the kitchen, the breeze of his passing raising goosebumps on Sherlock's arms.

"John Watson, meet Soo Lin Yao." Sherlock had a half-smile on his face, arms folded behind his back.

Considering how well she had secreted herself, Sherlock should be pleased with himself, John thought. Never leaving the museum, creeping out at night to make tea in her beloved Zisha pots? Amazing. John smiled at both her and Sherlock. Well done.

Soo Lin Yao wasn't a small woman, but she looked fragile as she told the story of how she came to be in hiding. Her life had been one reversal of fortune after another.

"You knew him well, back when you were living in China?" John asked.

"Oh, yes," Soo Lin said, voice calm as still water. "He is my brother."

John felt sick. He'd seen enough fanatics during the war, but this? To threaten your own sister with death?

Sherlock shifted in his seat, ready with a new question when there was a click. The lights went out. Soo Lin's tranquillity shattered. "He's here. He has found me."

Sherlock leapt up and ran from the room.

"Sherlock!" John shouted. The idiot was weapon-less, heedless as an arrogant sod of a consulting detective who believed himself invulnerable. Did he even know where to find the intruder? John cursed under his breath, before Army-instinct kicked in. He man-handled the unresisting Soo Lin out of the line of sight of the doors. Gunshots rang out.


"I've got to go and help him. Bolt the door after me," he whispered to Soo Lin. And he left her, running through the echoing marble of the museum. Sherlock Sherlock damn it don't get yourself killed Sherlock!

There was only silence. He whirled, listening. And heard a single shot. From where he'd come from. Oh no. No.

He ran, heart in his throat. Soo Lin was lying still, a dark pool spreading around her, face serene. John breathed in guilt, and exhaled in a near-sob.

Oh God.

John's teeth were set as they rode in the taxi to Scotland Yard. He wouldn't look at Sherlock. Living, breathing Sherlock.

Choices. In retrospect, John made the wrong one and he wasn't sure if he could ever forgive himself. How long would it be before he was able to see any dead young woman without mourning a wasted life? There was no resemblance between this woman and his old friend and comrade-at-arms in Afghanistan, but he thought of Lizzy McKane. Lizzy's laughter and life had been snuffed out in one roadside bomb. In some ways, Soo Lin's death was worse, coming from the hands of her brother.

One part of his mind was sick with futile guilt. She was alone, I could have stayed, protected her. She didn't even cry out. The battle-trained, doctor part of his mind was detached (civilian casualty, left in an unsecured location with multiple entry points - death result of one gunshot wound).

Another, smaller part of his mind said, if not caring is what the work entails, then sod it.

He should never have let Sherlock convince him to come without the added back-up of the police. Dimmock wasn't a fool, whatever Sherlock thought - he would have come.

Sherlock was alive. Soo Lin was dead. John's delirious relief over the first fact made his guilt over the second burn all the more.

Sherlock held himself still as John shouted at Dimmock about finding killers before they gunned down another victim. John was upset, as was Sherlock. With the death of Soo Lin, the easiest key to deciphering the code was gone. When John moved into Dimmock's personal space with fists bunched, Sherlock stepped between them. There was no chance that Sherlock was done with this mystery, and they needed the detective. The key was in a book, and the books were in the victims' flats. All he needed was to prove to Dimmock a connection existed between all three victims.

Smugglers / organized crime / tattoos / victims / obvious / show you the tattoos /

He looked over his shoulder at John, who was crossing and uncrossing his arms, brow still creased. Back in the museum, John had come after him. Foolish leaving their sole informant alone, but - John heard the gunshots and followed.

John has killed for me. John ran into enemy fire for me. Would he do it for just anyone? Could John be that altruistic?

He is the question to which I cannot find the answer. Yet I could spend ages looking for the answer and not be bored. Years. Epochs.

As Dimmock shrugged into his overcoat, Sherlock turned to John. His eyes flicked over John, measuring, analysing. Anger / guilt / tension /. He should - he wanted to help John. Sherlock's hand rose, settled on John's shoulder and gave a brief squeeze. Comrade, not colleague. Indispensable.

John's eyes lifted to his, startled. Sherlock's lips twitched up into what he hoped was a reassuring smile, but within something was cracking, his chest burning. John was essential. He couldn't lose him. Sherlock had to do something more, he had to bend or he would shatter.

"All right?" asked Sherlock.

John blew a breath, the tension easing. His arm twitched, hand half-rising as though to cover Sherlock's before it dropped away. His answering smile was pained.

"Not really. But I'll do." He paused. "Thanks for asking. Let's get this finished. Stop this maniac."

A true partner. No other.

Sherlock's fingertips flexed, pressed into John's solid warmth once more before releasing him.

Smugglers of Chinese antiquities, killers, codes and now - books. John watched in dismay as the police constables carried in carton after carton of books. "And they say no one reads any more." He stepped back as boxes were stacked three-high in the living room. "Well, this shouldn't take too long."

After Sherlock brusquely dismissed Dimmock, John sighed. "Sherlock, he was offering to help. Don't you think we could use a hand with," he gestured broadly, "- all this?"

"He'd be in the way. I work best alone." Sherlock was opening up a box. "Your presence excepted."

John blinked. This was odd. As horrible as Sherlock had been yesterday, today he was being nice. For a given value of nice, in a Sherlock way. "Right. Okay then. I'll take notes?" Sherlock made a noise of agreement as he paged through a thick hard-back.

For a time they worked in silence broken only by the flutter of pages and the scratch of John's pen. The stacks of discards by John's chair grew higher and unsteadier, and he got up with a groan to shift them to the couch where they immediately fell over and fanned like a pack of cards.

He muttered an oath under his breath, then raised his voice. "I'm going to make a cuppa. You want one?"

Sherlock growled something but John pressed him. "We've been going hard at it all day. You'll drink it and thank me, or I'll do something drastic."

Sherlock's head lifted at that. "What will you do?"

John smiled. "That's for me to know and you to deduce. Seriously, Sherlock. You need it. Doctor's orders."

"Oh, well then. If you order it," said Sherlock, but his lips quivered as he opened another book.

In the kitchen, John made two mugs. He added sugar to one and thrust it at Sherlock. "Here."

Sherlock scanned the page he was currently open to. "'The.' Approximately thirty-five percent of the first words on the fifteenth page are 'the.' Ah, my tea. Thank you, Doctor." He tossed the book down and took the mug, fingers brushing John's, the brief touch and Sherlock's uncharacteristically droll tone sending a small shock through John.

"Definite articles. So boring," John quipped. "But you must prefer them to the indefinite article, a logician like yourself." He was standing too close, holding his own mug as though he'd forgotten what he was meant to do with it. Sherlock was watching him, and the awareness of their proximity was playing havoc with his resolve. Stop it, he told himself. No good, he doesn't do relationships. But that stern reminder didn't negate the increase of his pulse, the urge to take the mug of tea back, set it on the mantelpiece and press his mouth against the column of throat exposed by the purple shirt.

John coughed, and clinked his mug against Sherlock's instead. "Cheers. To code-breaking." He took a quick gulp and turned away from that too-keen gaze before Sherlock could see anything incriminating. From the corner of his eye he could see that Sherlock was standing stock-still, tea untasted, still watching.

During the next few hours, Sherlock walked over several times to place promising books next to John's elbow. On occasion he leant over John's shoulder to read his notes, disregarding personal space in his usual fashion. John swallowed when the woodsy scent of Sherlock's pricey cologne wafted over him. He carried on writing when Sherlock planted an arm on the desk, caging John with his body. But Sherlock did nothing, said nothing other than making an acerbic comment on the abysmal handwriting of the medical profession, to which John tartly replied.

The books, for the most part, were a motley collection - both Lukis and Van Coon had a taste for popular novels, and a number of travel books of Asia - unsurprising considering their double lives. But as the night wore on, John noticed some of the books being set down by Sherlock were different. A collection of erotic stories. A coffee-table book on the Beatles, one of which had the dust-cover bookmarking a page about A Day in the Life. Gray's anatomy - but wasn't this copy Sherlock's own? Yes, there were notes written in the margins in his sloping script. A book about the experiences of British troops in Afghanistan. John jumped to his feet after that was slapped down next to him and escaped to the bathroom.

Within, he pressed his thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose. What the hell, Sherlock? John was not a genius when it came to connecting the dots, but this was going too far. If it wasn't some coincidence, that is, that all those books had some connection to things they discussed in a different lifetime as Hardwin and Hugh. God, if this was some deliberate attempt on Sherlock's part to provoke some... some new datafrom John, he was going to go spare. Never mind the ASBO, he was going to commit murder.

John splashed some water on his face. Keep it together. You thought the experiment was done. It's been nearly three months and he's never brought it up. Let's play this out, and see what happens.

When John opened the door, he yelped. Sherlock was standing with his hand outstretched for the knob. "Sherlock! What are you doing?"

Sherlock eyed him. "I drank a large beverage under orders. Need I make the connection for you?"

"What, and you were just going to barge in?" John sputtered. Sherlock only lifted a brow.

"You were washing your face."

John bit back a comment about listening at doors and glared. "Fine. It's free."

With a murmured word of thanks, (thanks! I've had more 'thank you's from Sherlock today than in our entire time living together!)Sherlock pushed through the narrow door past John before he could move. His body brushed against John's, the cotton shirt warm against John's shoulder. Oh God. That wasn't his thigh sliding over your hip. Ignore that, didn't happen.That couldn't have been deliberate. Could it? He was going insane. The door clicked shut, shoving him out. John crossed the room collapse into the desk chair. Shaking his head, he reached for the new book that Sherlock had stacked, and paused.

'Collins' Book of British Birds.' He drew the book to him. One page was dog-eared. He ran a finger over the fold, heart hammering.Right. He could handle this.. He opened the book to the eighty-eighth page. Falco subbuteo. Falco peregrinus. Falco columbarius.John's mind flashed back to their second call, the talk of Saker falcons and then... that fantasy, that wild, improbable, arousing fantasy.

He's doing my head right in.

He heard the bathroom door open and flicked the pages to page fifteen, word one. He scribbled 'flight' without even looking at the pad. He heard Sherlock open another carton and the ruffle of paper. Don't do it. Don't take the bait.

"British birds. Unusual choice for a financier like Van Coon." He winced. Too late.

"A gift, judging from the inscription in the front cover." Sherlock's voice was unconcerned.

"Oh. But it's dog-eared. Maybe he had an interest in bird-watching?" Oh, God, shut up, you sound inane, and Sherlock will only -

"What page?"

John paused. He turned around in his seat. He had to face Sherlock for this. Sherlock was looking at him, finger marking the place in the Dan Brown novel he held.

"Falcon species," John said. Sherlock looked at the book he held and put it aside, reaching for another. He's not looking at me. It's nothing, stupid to have expected something. Either he's not interested or...

"Only five species of falcon native to Great Britain. Though there are sightings of rarer species."

Ah ha. "Yes, I've heard that. Sorry." John licked his lip. "Sorry, but I wouldn't have thought it would be an area that interested you. I mean, birds of Britain."

Sherlock closed his book and set it aside, plucking two more out. "You would be wrong. Someone once told me a bit on the topic. It was fascinating." He still wasn't looking at John, face smooth, seemingly distracted. He's doing that thing, pretending he's humouring me with this vacuous conversation, but he keeps talking.

"This... was it for a case?"

"Not exactly," said Sherlock. John bit back a snarl.

No, not exactly a case, was it, the way you had me on and made me care, only to tell me it was a grand experiment! I was falling in love with you, you arse!

"But we met indirectly through odd circumstances," Sherlock continued. "Our connection was made under pseudonyms, in fact, due to the nature of the person's work."

John froze, mind whirling. What? What are you saying? He swallowed. "You never knew - never found out who it was?"

Sherlock slammed a book shut and tossed it aside with an impatient sound. "I recognised their voice when we happened to meet sometime later." John looked hard at him. Sherlock's face was as composed as ever. It was difficult to tell in the dimness - was he paler than normal?

"That would be strange," said John. It had been, at the time - John had felt exposed. And then furious and exhilarated by turns. "Running into someone like that. Must have been awkward for you."

"Not exactly. But though I do prefer straightforward relations, I know from my work that there are times when it is inadvisable to speak out."

"Dangerous, you mean." As in, fist-meeting-your-face dangerous. "Undercover stuff, like the police."

Sherlock shrugged, and shifted an empty carton aside. "There was no threat to me."

John bit his tongue. No, of course there wasn't. "So?"


"You're not a shrinking violet, Sherlock, I've heard you talk, you had no problem outing Anderson's affair the first crime scene we went to." John fought to keep his tone relaxed. "So why didn't you say anything to this person, if there was no danger?"

Sherlock straightened and looked at John directly for the first time. His eyes flickered. His mouth opened, closed, then thinned out. Finally he spoke. "We had first spoken under pseudonyms. Meeting for the first time in public, I couldn't be sure the person wanted me to acknowledge our former interactions. It was probable that exposure would cause problems for the one involved." He met John's gaze. "Both the circumstances of our meeting, further association and my observations of their reactions persuaded me to do otherwise."


"Oh," said John. And so all this time - you didn't want to bring it up? That's... that's just stupid, Sherlock. But I didn't bring it up either so - hang on. You idiot, call yourself a genius? No. Think, John. Don't say anything before you think.

"I guess that makes sense. Huh," John said. He turned away before Sherlock could formulate a response and picked up his pen. He opened a book, wrote, and stacked it neatly. After a moment he heard Sherlock pick up another tome, open it, and then a loud thump! as it was flung down.

It did make a certain kind of twisted sense. Sherlock was just the person to out John's job as a phone sex line worker in front of Stamford and the world and not think there was a thing wrong with doing so - except he hadn't. But if he had exposed John, then... then John would have gone for his throat and after a leisurely throttle, demanded an apology. He was only human, after all. But...

If Sherlock had said something, then the whole experiment fiasco would have come up. John still wanted to know what Sherlock had meant by mucking John's head around for a social experiment.

Sherlock doesn't apologise, you know that. He has to, I need to hear it, but...

John muffled a groan and rubbed his eyes. Christ, he was so tired, he couldn't think straight. What time was it, anyway?

Where was he? They had shagged - well, they'd got each other off over a phone line. Sherlock had manipulated John, and then when John was down, had told him what he'd done and expected John to be pleased. They'd had a spectacular row about trust issues, and John had fought back the only way he could - by cutting Sherlock off.

So, all that aside, Sherlock thought that John's reaction to being recognised, much less recognised as a phone sex operator, was sufficient reason not to speak? John cocked his head. Well, when you put it that way. Oh, and the potential for my violent reaction. Let's not forget that.

So. So Sherlock was an idiot. They had lived together for months now, and John had waited and waited. Now it seemed that Sherlock had been the one waiting. For John to speak first. Why?

John opened book after book, taking notes. He sighed, then started when Sherlock dropped another stack next to his chair.

"Have you come up with anything?" Sherlock's eyes moved from the note paper to John's face.

What?Belatedly John shook himself. Case. The work. "I don't see any connection yet." He muffled a yawn and saw Sherlock's eyes dart to the hand covering his mouth. Oh. Testing, he rubbed his mouth, and sighed. The flare of Sherlock's nostrils was minuscule, but there. "I'm knackered though. How are we doing?"

"Not much longer," said Sherlock and plucked the paper away, turning back to his cartons.

Not an accident then, those little touches. And the good manners. Why now? I guess even Sherlock Holmes has limits. Though what he meant by 'married to his work...'

With a flash of annoyance, John realised he'd been played again - Sherlock had placed the ball firmly in John's court.

It's up to me, after all that? Sod that, I'm not the one who needs to bend here. He has to apologise. I won't settle for less, I deserve at least that. John Watson, if you give in on this, you may as well kiss your self-respect good-bye. Go carefully here... God, I'm tired. If John knew one thing, it was that conversations like this should never happen when at least one party was so exhausted he was verging on incoherent.

"This person," John said slowly. "The one with a fake name. What do you think would have happened if you'd said you recognised him when you met?"

There was a throbbing moment before Sherlock spoke. "I never said it was a man."

John clenched his jaw. "For the sake of simplicity. What could he do?"

"Sever our acquaintance." Sherlock's reply was fast, flat.

"That would be bad? If he cut you off?" Sherlock said nothing, and John scooted around to look at him. Sherlock was thumbing through the book with studied care, his shoulders tense, face mask-like.

He's on edge, John realised. I think... He cares that much? Well. Let's see. Heart pounding, he asked, "Are you sure?"

Sherlock's head lifted. John went on, "Someone once told me it was better to be truthful right from the start. So." He cleared his throat. "Might be hard, but better late then never. You never know."

Sherlock was staring. Gently, John added, "Think about it."

With that, he turned away from the wide, spooked look in Sherlock's eyes and dragged another book towards him.

Friday, March 26th

Think about it. Rationality was Sherlock's domain, the blaze of intellect his pride and his solace. Think about it? How?

If Sherlock had ever been this conflicted before in his life, he was incapable of recalling it. His reason was warring with anger and, yes, that was apprehension. Not fear. He'd admit that much. Score one for John. He's wily. I underestimated him - again. All my manoeuvring, and yet he's thwarted me. Sherlock had a grudging admiration for how neatly John had turned the tables.

He watched John, who had an elbow on the desk and was cushioning his cheek on his fist. The lamp light caught on the pale strands of hair, gold and dun and white. Time in England had faded John's tan, but above his collar the skin retained its golden hue.

Need I think? Rare that Sherlock let physical desires rule over him, but he was seized with the impulse to cross the room and run a finger beneath John's collar. Touch John's warmth, bend close and run his lips over that muscled neck, feel the textures of John's skin as they passed under his lips.

John's head nodded, heavy with sleep. His fist slipped and he lifted his head with a jerk.

No. Must think. John said he valued truth, intimated that all be laid bare. But there was a chance that John would take it badly. Unacceptable. To open up meant vulnerability. Trust. The possibility of rejection. Was that what he wanted?

Yes. Yes, I want what we shared before. More. I... I want him. Sherlock clapped the book he was holding shut with a snap. This - this has destroyed my reasoning. John has ruined me. Appalling not to have seen this before. If he leaves, I will have lost something irreplaceable. Sentiment. Need. Sherlock's jaw clenched.

So, John still refused to speak. He hinted that forgiveness was possible. That would be good. Then they could carry on as before, but more, with real depth and understanding in their association.

There was the physical side as well. He'd tried to ignore that flicker of attraction, barricaded it behind reason, excuses. For all the good it had done. What was John? More than mere usefulness at crime scenes, beyond being a voice in the dark on a phone line, better than any colleague. He was John, complete in and of himself. That was sufficient. Sherlock would enjoy exploring that territory with John, moments shared after a case, touches exchanged, bodies sliding against each other in the dark. He very much wanted to catalogue the noises John made when aroused and add them to all his mental audio files on John, compare them to the sounds he made during their telephone calls.

John's head nodded again and Sherlock frowned at the sight. Take care of John. Well, now he had true incentive to get this case finished quickly, so he could devote some time to John. Once he'd brought up their shared history, that is. Sherlock would have to explain, most likely apologise in order to assuage John's feelings of outrage. Daunting thought.

Sherlock put his hands on his hips and glared at the remaining boxes. John, you would force me to this point. I have done everything except write it out and still -!Sherlock cut off the thread of anger.

He turned his head to speak when a peep-peep! sounded interrupted. John started, pulled back his cuff and checked his watch. Outside, the church bells were sounding the advent of the day. John put his face into his hands and groaned.

"Oh, God. It's Friday. I have to start at the surgery today."

Pointless,thought Sherlock. "We're almost done."

"I'm almost done in,Sherlock. Can't believe I was up all night."

"Don't go, then," Sherlock suggested. John gave him a flat look that said everything. "Fine." Sherlock made a broad gesture indicating John was free to leave and didn't look at him as John brushed by to go to his room. Fuming, he heaved a carton nearer the desk and dropped into the seat, bending over the notes, eyes flickering. Focus, get this finished. Possible code word matches - tomorrow / at / look / where .../

He refused to look up when John came clattering back down.

"Sherlock, have you seen my phone - oh, ta."

Sherlock passed the phone from where it had been lying on the desk. He crossed out a word.

"What happened?" John's voice.

/ door / imagine / I / ... what? /Sherlock looked up. John's eyes were fixed on his neck. "It's nothing."

"You have a scratch and some kind of bruising coming up. Doesn't look any older than a day. So." John essayed a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "What were you up to when I wasn't around?"

"You were there. Soo Lin's flat."

"It looks like someone's -"

Sherlock cut him off. "It wasn't empty."

"What are you saying?"

"Our mysterious killer was there." Sherlock lifted a shoulder. "Doesn't matter. I was unable to get any usable information concerning the encounter."

John looked appalled. "Sherlock. Why didn't you say anything?"

"He throttled me into unconsciousness with a scarf, left his flower calling card and escaped. The very nature of the attack precluded calling for help." Though he had, had gasped John's name in desperation. Sherlock regretted his folly in leaving John out, though he didn't think he would regret his last word being John's name. Interesting thought.

John was shaking his head slowly. "You let me think you were fine, when you came out. You were attacked, and you didn't tell me?"

"I'm telling you now," said Sherlock. "The injuries were, as you can see, minor. It didn't warrant medical attention and time was of the essence. I fail to see the problem here."

"No, why would you? For God's sake, he could have crushed your larynx! You don't even know how long you were out! I'm a doctor, you should have told me! Better yet, let me into the flat. But not you, no. You work alone." John's voice tapered off. His tired eyes were angry, blinking rapidly. His mouth pressed thin.

"If it's any consolation, I regret not bringing you in," Sherlock said. But I was annoyed with you and concerned about your ASBO. It was a mistake. What you do to me, John Watson, that I even admit my errors.

John barked a laugh. "Yeah, well. That's something." He checked his watch again. "I have to go. We're not done with this yet, Sherlock." He pinned Sherlock with a burning look. "Not by a long shot."

"Fine. We'll have a civilised discussion. When we're less busy tracking a killer, perhaps? They are still ahead of us, but I am getting closer." Sherlock brandished a book at John, who only grimaced and turned to go. The door slammed, and Sherlock turned back to the task at hand.

That moron. Didn't let me in, almost got himself killed again, doesn't he care how that makes me feel? Knowing I was outside the door while he was being murdered? Feel like I'm being yanked about like a stupid dog on a lead, doesn't tell me anything, still won't confess... Assassins lying in wait, and that's not important?

John was half-way to the surgery, muttering to himself when the realisation struck him. He stopped mid-pavement and put a hand out to wall to steady himself, head down and dizzy.

Oh God. She died. Soo Lin's dead because we killed her. It's my fault, it's our fault, it's his.


Auth - And here we leave the boys, at the start of the last day of the case of The Blind Banker.

Having ruined The Blind Banker, what more is there to do, except have Sherlock and John overcome their stubborn selves and admit they both have... well, trust issues is putting it mildly.

I had debated putting up the previous two chapters, knowing it was likely to drive people mad not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but in the end at the advice of friends and the desire to let you know I hadn't died over the keyboard, I posted anyway.

Thank you for reading this far, and if there was a format or spelling issue or if you just want to comment about The Blind Banker and its weak plotting, feel free. I enjoyed using it, merely because it had space for writing in extra scenes. So much easier than ASiP